MDLO Orchestra with
Postponed due to Covid-19
Apr 22, 2020
The Music Center at Strathmore
Any seat is $10 with Student ID
Prices for adults from $25
MDLO Orchestra with Cecile Licad
Born: 7 May 1833, Hamburg, Germany
Died: 3 April 1897, Vienna, Austria
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Composed between 1854 and 1859 for piano with orchestra, using material intended for a projected symphony (1854) and sonata for two pianos (ca.1855-58), neither of which was completed.
An extraordinary melding of musical heritage and progressive outlook made Brahms an overwhelming presence in the latter half of the 19th century, and beyond. The most recent edition of The New Grove Dictionary describes him as the “successor to Beethoven and Schubert in the larger forms of chamber and orchestral music, to Schubert and Schumann in the miniature forms of piano pieces and songs, and to the Renaissance and Baroque polyphonists in choral music”, adding that he “creatively synthesized the practices of three centuries with folk and dance idioms….” Most of these elements can be discerned in one way or another in the composer’s monumental First Piano Concerto.
The creation of this gigantic work, longer even than Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, occupied Brahms for at least five years. After beginning a two-piano sonata in 1854, he soon realized that the musical material required orchestral treatment. Following the wise decision to combine piano and orchestra, Brahms recast the opening as the first movement of a piano concerto; the other movements of the sonata were discarded (although one of them reappeared later in the composer’s German Requiem). A jaunty new finale was completed in late 1856, followed by the radiant slow movement, but the composer continued to make adjustments up to and even beyond the first performances of the Concerto in January 1859.
Considering the intensity of the work, it may not be so surprising that a critic wrote of the second performance, in Leipzig, that the Concerto “cannot give pleasure,” lamenting that it contained “the shrillest dissonances and most unpleasant sounds.” Especially when compared with the bucolic rapture of the First and Second Serenades, Op. 11 and Op. 16, which Brahms composed in 1857 and 1858, the Concerto is an uncompromising and awesome piece of work, and it remains so even 150 years later.
The Maestoso first movement opens with a mighty noise: as clarinets, bassoons, timpani, violas, and basses sustain an ominous pedal note, violins and cellos declaim the melody with stabbing accents and menacing trills. Before long the other winds are added to the violent assault, but then an espressivo variant lends an air of melancholy, with the theme eventually rising to an exalted register in the first violins. Another outburst, with horns reinforcing the theme, subsides again to make way for the solo piano, which enters with what must be one of the most understated thematic statements in the entire concerto literature. There is a hushed, hesitant, almost stuttering quality, all the more surprising when we know that this very same solo will soon gather up its courage and challenge the orchestra with its own ferocious statement of those menacing trills. As thematic materials are traded back and forth during the 20-plus minutes of this movement, we can only marvel at how well-suited each element seems, both to the orchestra and to the keyboard.
After the earthly struggles that mark the first movement, the Adagio is, quite literally, a world away. “I am painting a gentle portrait of you,” wrote Brahms of this music to Clara Schumann, whose husband Robert had died in 1856. There is a devotional aspect to the music that most likely reflects the composer’s appreciation of the “ancient” masters (e.g., Palestrina). Clara herself noted the movement’s “spiritual” quality.
The final rondo is begun by the piano alone, and many commentators have compared the outline of this movement with the finale of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. The truth, as so often with Brahms, is that any models and forms fade quickly in the bright light of the composer’s personality, so distinctive and so charismatic. Combining the rhythmic vigor which would become a regular feature of his concerto finales with the “learned” style of the Baroque masters and an ample supply of virtuoso passage-work, the music reminds us that Brahms would create his masterful set of Handel Variations in 1861.
- Maestoso (D minor)
- Adagio (D major)
- Allegro non troppo (D minor)
* Brahms. Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2. Seven Piano Pieces, Op 116. Emil Gilels / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Eugen Jochum (DG) Recorded 1972-75
* Brahms. Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2. Four Ballades, Op 10. Scherzo, Op 4. Eight Pieces, Op 76 Stephen Kovacevich/London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis (Newton Classics) Recorded 1979 & 1983
* Brahms. Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 Nelson Freire / Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig / Riccardo Chailly (Decca) Recorded live 2005-06
Born March 25, 1881, Nagyszentmiklós, Transylvania (now part of Romania).
Died September 26, 1945, New York City.
Concerto for Orchestra
Composed in 1943. Premiered on December 1, 1944 by Boston Symphony Orchestra, under Serge Koussevitzky. Instrumentation: 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (3rd doubling English horn), 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, 2 harps, violins, violas, cellos, basses
As a child, Béla Bartók showed definite signs of becoming a piano prodigy and was encouraged by his parents to follow the path of a performer rather than of a composer. He did enjoy composition, though, and produced nearly fifty works by 1899, when he began a serious study of theory and composition at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. As his style matured, he gravitated toward nationalistic music. For a young Hungarian, this meant making use of the artificial Hungarian “flavorings” used by Liszt and Brahms. There was a little else upon which to base a nationalistic music, because Hungary’s rich and varied musical heritage was virtually unknown to academic musicians, particularly those trained, as Bartók was, in the German tradition. This unfortunate situation changed in 1905 when Bartók “discovered” Hungarian folk music and spent the next eight years collecting and systematically cataloging it with the help of Zoltán Kodály. In doing so, he discovered a music rich with the inflections of the Hungarian language. The melodies often made use of ancient church modes, and the rhythms were highly irregular. All of his compositions written after this period of discovery show the unmistakable influence of folk music. They became increasingly personal and complex, and these traits made it difficult for Bartók to gain public acceptance. During the period between the World Wars, he was greatly respected as an ethnomusicologist but began to suffer fiscal problems due to the infrequency of performances of his works.
In 1940, Bartók and his family moved to New York for political reasons. There they suffered serious financial problems, which were further complicated by the effects of Bartók’s undiagnosed leukemia. Few musicians knew of Bartók’s condition. Those who did attempted to help him financially, but never with the composer’s knowledge for fear of wounding his pride. In 1943, Bartók’s friends Joseph Szigeti and Fritz Reiner privately urged the conductor Serge Koussevitzky to visit Bartók’s hospital bed with a commission for an orchestral work designed to show off his Boston Symphony Orchestra. A reinvigorated Bartók accepted the challenge and, in a period of only two months, completed the Concerto for Orchestra.
When asked to explain his use of the word “concerto,” Bartók said that he meant that the individual sections of the orchestra were often treated in a “soloistic” manner. The first movement is in traditional sonata form, but with themes and rhythms strongly influenced by Hungarian folk music. Near the end, they are played backwards, forwards, and upside down. The second movement bears the subtitle Giucoco delle coppie (Game of the Couples) in the score and parts. However, the manuscript clearly labels it as Presentando de coppie (Presentation of Couples). In this movement, pairs of bassoons, oboes, clarinets, flutes, and muted trumpets each present their own melodies separated by fixed intervals. After a chorale by the remaining brasses, each pair returns—this theme with their melodies embellished by additional instruments.
The third movement brings back some of the first movement’s material in an impressionistic elegy equally as rich in the spirit of folk song. The following movement is a simple intermezzo with two alternating folk-like melodies. In the middle, however, there is a rude interruption which owes its existence to Bartók’s dislike of Shostakovich, whom he believed to be overrated. According to Bartók’s son, his father happened to hear a broadcast of the “Leningrad” Symphony while working on the intermezzo. He was moved to parody Shostakovich’s work by inserting an interruption by a clarinet playing a march tune from the symphony. The clarinet is, in turn, greeted by jeers from the trombones, a repetition of the theme in the style of a German band, and a final parody by the tuba. Bartók then completed the movement as if the interruption had never taken place.
The final movement begins with a brilliant horn call followed by a theme which is presented in the strings and then subjected to every imaginable contrapuntal device. A second theme by the trumpet later becomes the subject of a fugue, and all of the themes are brought together in a stunning finale dominated by a triumphant brass section. The premiere by the Boston Symphony in December, 1944, was an unqualified success. Fortunately, Bartók was able to attend and accept the acclaim for what would be his last and most popular work for orchestra.
II. Giuoco delle coppie
IV. Intermezzo interrotto
* Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta; Hungarian Sketches. Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
* Bela Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; 3 Village Scenes; Kossuth. Ivan Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra
* Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra / Dance Suite / Two Portraits, Op.5 / Mikrokosmos (2) excerpts. Antal Dorati, London Symphony Orchestra
Born: September 26, 1898, Brooklyn, New York, NY
Died: July 11, 1937, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
An American in Paris, subtitled “A Tone Poem for Orchestra”, was composed in 1928, when Gershwin was not quite 30, on commission from the New York Philharmonic. It premiered at Carmegie Hall in New York City on Dec. 13, 1928, and it was the first of Gershwin’s purely orchestral works, with no role for piano but plenty of jazz harmonies and spirit. Instrumentation: 3 flutes, 3rd doubling piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba; timpani, bass drum, crash cymbals, glockenspiel, large tom tom, small tom tom, snare drum, taxi horns of different pitches, triangle, wood block, xylophone; strings. Performance time: 17 minutes
In 1951 (after Gershwin’s passing), it was given cinematic interpretation in the classic Gene Kelly film of the same name. Gershwin himself called it a “rhapsodic ballet.” Certainly it is danceable, and the free-flowing nature of rhapsodies also seems appropriate to the piece. The term Gershwin apparently did not know at the time was “program music,” meaning an instrumental piece that has a story to tell or a scene to paint, though without supplement of voice, dance, or narration. The music itself serves to tell the tale. One particularly famous example of the genre is Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from 1897; Gershwin’s piece is no less evocative than Dukas’.
Gershwin began the work in the summer of 1924. Having been asked by conductor Walter Damrosch to write a full concerto in follow-up to the success of Rhapsody in Blue, which had premiered that winter, Gershwin had decided that he would benefit from more advanced compositional training and so set off for Paris. There, he found that the greatest names of music—amongst them, Ravel and Stravinsky—were disinclined to tamper with the jazz star’s innate skills. However, he also found inspiration for what would be his most orchestrally advanced score to that time.
An American in Paris offers a kaleidoscope of musical impressions, opening with a light-hearted strolling melody soon interrupted by the honking of taxi horns. A busy street scene ensues, brassy interludes alternating with bubbly clarinets. Melancholy bluesy melodies, sometimes for woodwinds, sometimes for strings, most prominently for muted trumpet, occupy the central pages. A quick change of mood leads to sassier colouring and a new spotlight for trumpet. Firm dotted rhythms of alternating short and long notes transition to a rich restatement of earlier materials, now broader and more leisurely in manner. Short solos for the unusual pairing of violin and tuba set up the spirited conclusion derived from the opening strolling melody. Throughout, the composer displays how effectively this star of the jazz world had internalized the sound of the orchestra. He may have been turned down for advanced studies with the big names in the field, but he had kept his ears engaged and learned what he needed to know to make the most of orchestral colour.
An American in Paris premiered Thursday evening, December 13, 1928, at Carnegie Hallwith the New York Philharmonic, newly united with the New York Symphony and under the leadership of conductor Walter Damrosch, formerly of the latter ensemble. Also on the program were the Magic Fire Music from Die Walküre of Richard Wagner (1813–83), the Symphony in D Minor from Belgian composer Cesar Franck (1822–90) and a short work by Franck’s countryman and protégée, Guillaume Lekue (1870–94).
Gershwin’s score was by far the liveliest of the lot. Moreover, the fact that Damrosch included it in the program alongside two established masterworks implies that he was confident of its excellence. Some listeners that evening would have come for the classics; one hopes that they were also impressed by the new work. As for the Gershwin fans who came to find out what the composer of I Got Rhythm was doing in Carnegie Hall, perhaps they came away thinking that this “classical stuff” was not half bad.
* Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & American in Paris. Leonard Bernstein (piano), New York Philharmonic Orchestra & Columbia Symphony Orchestra
* Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & Piano Concerto. André Previn (piano & conductor), London Symphony Orchestra
* Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Levine
Called "a pianist's pianist" by The New Yorker, Cecile Licad's artistry is a blend of daring musical instinct and superb training. Her natural talent was honed at the Curtis Institute of Music by three of the greatest performer/pedagogues of our time: Rudolf Serkin, Seymour Lipkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Licad's large repertoire as an orchestral soloist spans the Classical works of Mozart and Beethoven, the Romantic literature of Brahms, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Rachmaninoff, and on to the 20th century compositions of Debussy, Ravel, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Bartók.
Ms. Licad’s 2019-20 engagements include Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with Fresno Philharmonic, a recital with Danbury Concert Association, a joint recital with cellist Alban Gerhardt with Shriver Hall Concert Series in Baltimore, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 with Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 with Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra. She is also recording the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga.
Ms. Licad can be heard in the recently released album titled American Landscapes (Danacord), which was named “Classical New Release Of The Month” for March 2019 by 90.5FM WKAR Classical of Michigan State University. The album is the third volume of her critically acclaimed Anthology of American Piano Music, which explores lesser played music of American composers. Of the Anthology, Pianist Magazine wrote, “To hear a master pianist like Cecile Licad tackle these works is a luxury not often granted when unknown piano music is concerned. It’s usually left to the second-division pianists to be dragged into the studio to record the ‘outsiders’. Not so here.”
Ms. Licad’s recent engagements include Nashville Symphony’s summer season playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at the opening concert; Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Totentanz in the Cultural Center of the Philippines with the ABS-CBN Symphony; a recital at the Husum Rare Music Festival in Germany, as well as at Festival Miami; Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with San Antonio Symphony under Sebastian Lang-Lessing; Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Spokane Symphony; Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with Stamford Symphony; Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with Vallejo Symphony; Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganiniwith Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, under Lawrence Rachleff; returns to Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Adrian (MI) Symphony Orchestra; performing with Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle and Tacoma, as well as North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra; and recitals in Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum and at the Harvard Musical Association, also in San Jose, California and in Bogota, Colombia.
A memorable highlight was her collaboration with the Wynton Marsalis Septet performing the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk to accompany the feature film Louis, a silent film homage to Louis Armstrong which premiered in Chicago’s Symphony Center and was also seen at the Apollo Theater in New York City as well as in Detroit, Bethesda and Philadelphia. The project was repeated in London with two performances in Barbican Hall followed by a recording of the live music at Abbey Road studios.
Ms. Licad has toured in Germany in past seasons with Wurtemburg Philharmonic and appeared with Freiburg Orchestra performing the Shostakovich Concerto for Piano and Trumpet. She has appeared in North America with orchestras such as Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and many others. In Europe she has played with London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bayerisches Rundfunk Orchester, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and Moscow State Academy Symphony. In Asia, she has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, and her native Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Among the conductors with whom she has collaborated are Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Gerard Schwarz, Michael Tilson-Thomas, David Zinman, Pinchas Zukerman, as well as the late Kurt Masur, Claudio Abbado, Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Georg Solti, Eugene Ormandy, and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Cecile Licad has performed in recital with Murray Perahia, Peter Serkin and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, with whom she has appeared at Lincoln Center, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and the Kennedy Center, respectively. She also performs with cellist Alban Gerhardt in Germany and in the US. She appeared as soloist in the Steinway Piano Sesquicentennial Celebration at Carnegie Hall, performing six Rachmaninoff songs with tenor Ben Heppner, and has made television appearances with Mstislav Rostropovich.
As a highly regarded chamber musician, she has performed regularly with ensembles such as the New York Chamber Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Guarneri Quartet, Takacs Quartet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Music from Marlboro. She also appeared as guest soloist on tour with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Leipzig, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Köln, among other European cities.
Her summer festival appearances have included Caramoor, Tanglewood, the International Music Festival of Seattle, Mostly Mozart Festival (in both New York and Tokyo) as well as the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Chamber Music and Eastern Music Festival. She has also performed at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea.
On the Music Masters label, Licad released a recording of three works by Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin, Gaspard de la Nuit, and Sonatine. She has an all-Gottschalk recording on the Naxos label. And on Sony Classical, she has recorded Schumann’s Carnaval, Papillions and Toccata in C Major; and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado. Her CBS Masterworks release of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2, with André Previn conducting the London Philharmonic, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin. Angel/EMI produced her solo all-Chopin recordings, which include Études, op. 10. Also for Angel/EMI, she recorded, with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the Franck Sonata in A Major, the Brahms Sonata No. 2 in A Major, and Sonatensatz in C Major.
Cecile Licad began her piano studies at the age of three with her mother, Rosario Licad, in her native Philippines, and later studied with the highly regarded Rosario Picazo. At seven, she made her debut as soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Philippines. As one of the youngest musicians to receive the prestigious Leventritt Gold Medal, Ms. Licad won immediate international recognition, and her career was launched.
Called “a pianist’s pianist” by The New Yorker, Cecile Licad’s artistry is a blend of daring musical instinct and superb training. Her natural talent was honed at the Curtis Institute of Music by three of the greatest performer/pedagogues of our time: Rudolf Serkin, Seymour Lipkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Licad’s large repertoire as an orchestral soloist spans the Classical works of Mozart and Beethoven, the Romantic literature of Brahms, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Rachmaninoff, and on to the 20th century compositions of Debussy, Ravel, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Bartók.
Ms. Licad’s 2019-20 engagements include Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with Fresno Philharmonic, a recital with Danbury Concert Association, a joint recital with cellist Alban Gerhardt with Shriver Hall Concert Series in Baltimore, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 with Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra. She is also recording the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga.